Court Rules Company Negligent Because It Set Up Security

CHICAGO, Ill.

A state appeals court in Illinois has ruled that a company
can be sued for negligence in an assault case because it
voluntarily set up security measures

The 1st District Appellate Court ruled that when an Osco
Drug store hired security guards to patrol its store
parking lot, they were responsible for an assault that took
place there. “Generally, a business owner has a duty to
protect its invitees from criminal attacks by third parties
only where the attack was reasonably foreseeable,” Justice
Robert Cahill wrote. “However, a defendant that voluntarily
undertakes a legal duty to protect its invitees may be
found liable if it negligently performed the
undertaking.”

According to the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, Maria
and Jose Banda filed the negligence suit after they were
beaten with a tire iron by an assailant in an Osco Drug
parking lot in Chicago. Their complaint alleged that
American Drug Stores Inc., owner of the Osco Drug store,
had a duty to provide adequate security to protect its
customers from criminal acts because it hired security
guards to serve as a visible deterrent to crime.

The case was remanded to Cook County Circuit Court for
further proceedings. It is unclear what implications the
ruling will have for companies that purchase private
electronic security in addition to, or instead of, private
security guards.

However, Tony Calderone, president of the Illinois
Electronic Security Association (IESA), says the case is a
reminder to electronic security companies of the need to
cover their liability. “Most companies in the alarm
industry, if they’re wise in their business deci-sions, are
utilizing contracts that limit their liability,” Calderone
says. “They’re only paying us for the value of the service.
Liability has really shifted to the end user because they
are truly responsible for making sure their equipment is
functioning normally.”

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